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Just as the video game console market was about to crash into the New Mexico desert in 1983, professor and sociologist David Sudnow was unearthing the secrets of “eye, mind, and the essence of video skill” through an exploration of Atari’s Breakout, one of the earliest hits of the arcade world.
Originally released under the title Pilgrim in the Microworld, Sudnow’s groundbreaking longform criticism of a single game predates the rise of game studies by decades. While its earliest critics often scorned the idea of a serious book about an object of play, the book’s modern readers remain fascinated by an obsessive, brilliant, and often hilarious quest to learn to play Breakout just as one would learn the piano.
Featuring a new foreword and freshly edited text, Breakout makes a perfect addition to Boss Fight’s lineup of critical, historical, and personal looks at single video games. We’re proud to restore this classic to print and share with new audiences Sudnow’s wild pilgrimage into the limitless microworld of play.
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David Sudnow is the author of Passing On: The Social Organization of Dying and the piano theory book Ways of the Hand, for which he received a Guggenheim Fellowship. Until his passing in 2007, Sudnow taught piano from his own popular Sudnow Piano Method to thousands of students throughout the world.